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Published December 1, 1987 | Published
Journal Article Open


Scott, R. F.


An attempt is made to classify geotechnical failures, and these are illustrated by several examples. The experiences involved in trying to obtain remotely the properties of the granular material on the moon and Mars are summarized. Descriptions are given of several landslides in southern California but which have aspects in common with other landslide events in other parts of the world. The failure of two dams is discussed briefly. The problem of fault rupture as a hazard in its own right, apart from the associated generation of strong ground motion, is treated from the points of view both of faulting mechanics and also the effect of the displacements on structures. Methods of analysis including the finite element and finite difference techniques are considered with respect to the examination of failures. Discussion of the constitutive relations used in such methods is given, especially regarding stable and unstable material behaviour. Since the propagation of slip or rupture surfaces is important in many of the examples, emphasis is given to the implementation of numerical approaches in which unstable material behaviour can be employed, and which can give rise to the generation of slip surfaces or zones. Examples are given of the results of a discrete element method and the use of dynamic relaxation with the finite difference technique applied to some typical problems such as embankments, slopes and punch indentation. Attention is finally given to the questions raised in the design of structures, and the analysis and use of failures in this regard.

Additional Information

© 1987 Thomas Telford. The investigations and studies performed by the Author and reported here could not have been carried through without the assistance of many colleagues. It is well known that large teams are engaged particularly in space missions, whose success depends on their efforts. It would not have been possible to have tested the lunar surface without the assistance of many NASA, JPL and Hughes Aircraft Company workers. The Author's immediate colleagues at JPL were F. I. Roberson and M. C. Clary, electrical engineers, who ensured the function and performance of the Surveyor sampler; Roberson and the Author commanded the device on the moon. On Mars, and the Apollo programme, the Author's coworkers are listed on the referenced papers. C. E. Lindvall was kind enough to review the description of the Portuguese Bend landslide, which was discussed frequently together. At Highland Park, former students K. Zuckerman and T.-0. Lu assisted with the instrumentation. M. M. Baligh carried out the finite element fault propagation calculations. and P. B. Burridge set up and ran the Metrorail tunnel experiments on the Caltech centrifuge. The analysis was provided by a colleague. J. Hall. with whom the Author has had many discussions on finite element methods. P. Cundall's distinct element code was modified by J.-P. Bardet. who ran all the simulations in the Juncal ridge study and provided the statue computations. The finite difference computation leading to the slope stability result is a part of research performed by P. B. Burridge. This Paper could not have been completed without the hard work and patience of Sharon Beckenbach of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech. Caltech provided the unique opportunity to pursue the space ventures for which the Author is grateful.

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